Monday, December 8, 2014

Mr. Mom

We interrupt this work day to bring you
story time with the Princess!
Last week I had jury duty. Unlike most people, I actually was excited for the opportunity, and hoped I would get to be part of a trial. I'm not as interested in the "civic duty" and "maintain-your-rights" part of it as I am just curious and interested in the process. It sounds interesting to be thrown together with complete strangers and be forced to collaborate, draw on each others' strengths, and watch how it all unfolds. It's the ultimate in people-watching. Unfortunately I was not selected for a jury, despite my research to see what would make me most attractive to both the prosecution and defendant. Oh well. But this post is not about that. It's about the few hours in the morning that Philip had the kids.

Philip doubling as a mattress
When I received my jury summons, Philip immediately went into sad-puppy-eyes-mode, heralding the world's end since I was leaving him with the kids for, um, a few hours. (This is certainly not the first time he's had the kids, hello?). When the day came I was to report to the courthouse, I received these texts through the course of the morning:

(I left the house at 7:40am, and this was the conversation starting at 9:30)

Philip: Jayce woke me up at least every 30 minutes last night. The best sleep I got was between 7 and 8, because it was the only hour of uninterrupted sleep. :/ today is going to be miserable.

Me: Ohhhhhh goodness. I'm sorry. You could probably take the kids to moms house.....? So far about a third of us were called up but there are 6 cases today so we'll see how it goes. I'm still sitting here.

Philip: This is going to be a long day… ”Jayce, I JUST said don’t touch my headphones. Why are you touching them? What? More muffin? You JUST asked to be “all done” and got down. Why did you get down? PLEASE don’t throw muffin crumbs!” That conversation just took place in about 30 seconds.

Me: Want me to ask of mom can come in? I may be here for hours more.

Philip: No.

Daddy and Son
Me: Lol ok then ;) I love you forever tho.

Philip: "Daddy! PLEASE SNUGGLE!" it would be kinda cute if the scramble did not include study books, computers, and various wires and cords. All I wanted to do was lie quietly, now I have two wiggles...identifying various body parts and subsequently poking them. I love my children.

Philip: Jayce just cleared the table without being asked. ::conviction::

Philip: I just kissed a pink boot 

Philip: And Jayce just growled and bit sister in the butt. I am concerned.

Me: Wha????

Philip: Right?

Me: Dang. I'm released and coming home now. :(

Philip: Praise Jesus.

Me: <sends picture of coffee>

Philip: That better not be a question. 

Me: Nope 

Philip: I just hid in the bathroom for 10 minutes pretending to poop. Don’t judge.

I look at how much Philip does for the family: working, managing finances, managing and growing the business, coordinating employees, handy-man stuff, diaper-duty, being an amazing dad, a loving husband, a son, a son-in-law, an associate pastor, a mentor, Bible study leader, laundry-doer, a student, a middle-of-the-night-someone-is crying-fixer, my best friend, etc etc etc.  It astounds me that he does it all with skill and patience.  He balances fun and work so well, and I have no idea how he does it.  So many times I feel over-my-head just managing my part of the housework and the kids, and he steps in to help.  Within minutes, my world is put to right again.

Some days I feel a little put-out that he is so good at what he does, and he's so good at my job, too.  Then, occasionally I am reminded that being Mr. Mom is....  maybe not his strongest role.

Philip is also a horsey
Chillin' with Daddy at the water park

The love of her life

Princess' escort

A safe place to be: in Daddy's arms

Yeah, he's mine!

My best friend

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Not for Show-and-Tell

Baby Girl staying warm
Ha, today.  I must have had a sign on my head that said "STOP ME AND ADMIRE MY CHILDREN!"

Seriously, it ranged from kinda-rude-and-annoying to best-stranger-interaction-ever.

I walked to the store with Jayce and Anya in their stroller.  They like their stroller and I like my exercise. They were completely bundled in layers and layers of clothing, resembling marshmallows.  Well, brown marshmallows.  Chocolate marshmallows? Yeah, chocolate.  Probably a dozen people smiled and waved at the kids, said hi or a passing "how beautiful/cute/adorable/whatever".  A few interactions stuck out to me though.

Neutral interaction:
Ok, so as I walked through the parking lot to the store, one of the cart-collectors stopped me and asked if Jayce and Anya were twins?  I smiled and said "Almost! They are 6 months apart!" The poor befuddled fellow was like, "How did you do that??" Ha ha, I told him it took talent.  A lame explanation, I know, but seriously what else was I to say? Someone please comment on this post with some witty one-liners.  I need them.  Thanks.

Slightly positive interaction:
We went inside and I was looking for long sleeved shirts for Anya.  It's close quarters back in the baby section, as if moms with double strollers aren't expected to be there.  There were a few people commenting how adorable the kids were, blah blah blah, and one lady asked if they needed an extra grandmother?  Because "you can never have too many grandmothers."  Cute, thanks.  She then proceeded to help me look for shirts on the clearance rack, which was actually kinda nice.

Annoying interaction:
Making my way from the clothing section to the grocery section, an employee blocked my path and said (loudly, with that shrill voice that sounds like an under-educated reader of tabloids) "Oh my gawwwwd!  Look at that!" Calling to her fellow employee: "Lucy!  Come here and look at this!!!"  All the while she was staring slack-jawed, gaping at my kids, as if they were a box of newborn fuzzy aliens.  She began to make a fuss over the kids as I excused myself to get around her.  I smiled and gently said "We're not for show-and-tell today" as I scooted off in the opposite direction.  Poor Lucy stood there rather awkwardly.

Best. ever. interaction:
Before braving the cold walk home, I stopped by Starbucks for a latte.  Standing in line waiting for the barrista, a guy and a gal came over towards me.  The guy apologized for interrupting me (which he wasn't) and said that he just had to come see the kids.  He began the general "so beautiful, so handsome, blah blah" stuff that everyone says.  He then asked if they were adopted? He seemed genuinely interested in our family, so I volunteered a little more info about their birth-country, age, length of time at home, etc.  He asked their names, complimented Anya's smile, and asked if he and his gal-friend can give them high-fives (thank you for asking!!!!).
Then he says: "I'm really touched by what you guys have done.  Thank you for providing a safe place for these kids."

Wow.  Of all the things to say to an adoptive mom, I think that is the about the best.  "Thank you for providing a safe place."  Yes.  He understands.  He understands there there was hurt in the past.  He doesn't patronize them or tell them how lucky they are.  He doesn't tell me what a saint I am.  He doesn't see them as cute items at a boutique.  By that one phrase, he communicates that my kids are valuable.  They are people, they are precious, they were once at risk, but now they are safe.  Thank you, random stranger, for that.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Toddling in Truth

3 John 3-11 (NIV)

"It gave me (John) great joy when some believers came and testified about your (Gaius') faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.  

Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you.  They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.  I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us... Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God."

Recently a friend asked if I was loving being a mom, what I liked most, and what I didn't. Well, I'm not loving being exhausted and having my attention called to every minute detail of a toddler's life. I'm not loving the diapers and how long it takes to go to the grocery store, the inability to be efficient or the fact that I have no cognitive abilities anymore. (Some would question whether I had any such abilities to begin with. Regardless, I have none now.)

But what am I loving? I had to think, and didn't have a good answer for her.  I love my children, I love my family, and I love knowing that this is absolutely what God has for my life right now.  I couldn't, however, put a finger on what I love most about mama-ing (ha, a new word).  After about a week of thought, I have a tentative answer: I am loving watching Jayce and Anya develop and show some characteristics of 3 John.  

At the beginning of this post I quoted from 3 John where we see the author finds the greatest joy in seeing his children (other believers) walk in truth.  John is the only New Testament author that uses that phrase "walk in truth".  In fact, he uses it repeatedly in 1, 2, and 3 John, so that it's a reoccurring theme throughout his letters.  In each passage, the idea of walking in truth is surrounded by ideas of loving God and reciprocating His love towards those around us.  

How does a 2-year-old, though, walk in truth?  What does that mean, anyway?

Here are my thoughts-without-cognitive-ability on this passage, simply based on the passage alone:

John writes about faithfulness.  His children are consistent in what is right.
These people have integrity towards other believers that they do no know.
They are loving.
They act on their faith.
They show hospitality.
They are unified.
They do not put themselves forward but consider others first.
They imitate what is good rather than evil.

Each of these things are concepts that my children (age 19 months and 25 months) can successfully do. And, honestly, I see the beginnings of each of these in both Jayce and Anya.  

I love seeing them obey happily.  We are working on the "consistent" thing, but it's a work in progress.

I love seeing their affection for each other and for Philip and I.  Sometimes the affection takes the shape of a wet, slobbery, heartfelt kiss or convulsions of excitement to see us in the morning (Anya).  Sometimes it is an unsolicited kiss on my kneecap, or randomly playing with my hair and using a brush to innocently create a rats-nest on my head (Jayce).  Jayce and Anya will give each other arbitrary hugs and kisses throughout the day, and watch out for each other's needs.  Jayce keeps track of Anya in great detail, alerting me to any potential need she may have.

I love seeing them do things for us, pick up something we dropped or help mop up a mess, just because it seems to them like the nice thing to do.  They both truly have kind hearts.  I have to remind myself to accept their kindness, but that's a post for another day.

I love how much they enjoy our friends and family in our home and are happy to share their books and toys and demand a story.  Both of them are content and comfortable with people in our home.

I love how much they are attached to each other.  When they are separated, they ask about the other one and are unsatisfied until they are back together again.  They are happy to be together, and I have often thanked God for His wisdom in allowing them to be placed in our home together.  God knew what He was doing.

Anya is learning to give Jayce his vitamin before she eats one herself.  We have practiced this a few times and now she anticipates me and takes Jayce his "treat" before she comes back for her own, rather than shoving Jayce's treat in her mouth first.  She is actively learning to put Jayce ahead of her own impulses and wants.

They watch and imitate Philip and I, our friends and family in the way we speak and act: not raising our voices, interacting kindly, being snugly and loving.  Jayce and Anya use their hands to explore their world gently, not intentionally being destructive (unless Anya gets a hold of a book....).  They are gentle with God's creatures and are considerate when exploring our faces with their fingers. They take joy in doing things correctly and in obeying well.  They seem happy that we find joy in them.  

It's ironic that I'm writing about this today, since today was not a "walking faithfully" day for the small folk.  I'm not sure I can reasonably equate "walking in truth" with "being nice" but based on the passage and the context, there has to be some link.  I'm not even sure how these concepts can be taught, other than modeling them and praying hard that God would use His Spirit to transform our kiddos into His image.  

I am reminded daily that these are His kiddos that He has entrusted to us.  He is the One ultimately responsible for them, and He is even more desirous that they walk in truth than we are.  Prayerfully, both Jayce and Anya will soon understand and believe the truth of God's Son, Jesus, and His sacrifice for them.  When that happens, they will be indwelt by God's Spirit and  be further equipped to follow in God's truth.  Yeah, looking forward to that.  Until then, by the grace of God, my two toddlers are toddling in truth, learning how to imitate what is good.  Watching them act on this good is definitely my favorite part of mama-ing.   

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In Response to "Black Moms Tell White Moms About the Race Talk"

Jayce and his grand-dad
A fellow adoptive mom recently posted this article, and I re-posted it on my FaceBook page. I thought it was a well written, brief foray into a topic that every mom of a black son thinks about. Whether or not those moms agree with what the article presents, the topic as a whole is not far from our minds. You can take a moment and read the article here:

Black Moms Tell White Moms About the Race Talk

A family member shared the article, and asked me to respond to some of the comments she received.

The gist of the article presents the real fear that our black sons and daughters will be stopped, harassed, humiliated and humbled by the police and others simply because of their black skin. A panel of 10 black moms in the article present the advice they give their sons while out of the home: be respectful all the time, be prepared to be frisked, be prepared to be stopped, don't run, don't go places in groups, etc etc. These women share the truth that 

"it doesn't matter about your college degree, the car you drive, the street you live on... It's not going to shield your child like a Superman cape."

I understand that many people will not share the views of the women in the article, nor will they agree with my perspective.  That's ok. I confess, I don't have years of personal experience in this area, but I am an adoptive mom with two beautiful black kids, and this is an issue that affects me and my family.  A friend also pointed out that many of the issues raised in the above article are not as prevalent in many parts of the country.  What might not be in issue here in the Northwest may be a huge issue in the Southeast. Still, the ideas presented are still relevant and my children still need to be aware of the potential results of their actions and attitudes. 

Sissy feeding her brother-- 2-year-old love

A friend has a son with Down Syndrome that they adopted several years ago.  She encounters people that are genuinely curious what it's like to raise a son with a disability.  People can be truly curious about what is involved in his care, and how it influences the rest of the family.   She encounters people who are curious about her and her husband's reasons behind adopting a child with Down Syndrome, and she is happy to chat and share.  Also, she encounters people who are condescending, patronizing, and/or indicate their view that her son is somehow less than a person.  She encounters people who see her as foolish for choosing to give a home to a child with a disability while so many other healthy children need homes as well, as if a healthy child is more deserving of a loving home.

I have children born in Ethiopia.  Some people are curious why we adopted internationally, why we adopted black kids, what it's like to have kids that don't "match" us, if we plan to give birth at some point, etc.  I'm willing and open to discussing those questions.  Other people are critical of our decision, openly prejudice, mean, and purposefully offensive.  Someone once told us to only adopt from such-and-such a tribe from Ethiopia because "they are a higher class" of person.  Pardon me while I claw your eyes out.  (Actually, I walked away without opening my mouth.)

Here's the thing:

There is a time and place to educate and to change people's perspective.  I can talk about adoption until I am blue in the face, I can help you understand and process some of what an adoptive family is face with.  I can talk you through the steps, the decisions, the considerations and the outcome of each phase of the process.  However, if someone is hostile towards me, it will do me no good to try and have a reasonable conversation with them.  My only recourse is to live my life and show by my life what a family can be.   

My friend can tell you all about Down Syndrome, the challenges she faces, and all about her son's amazing contribution to their family.   However, if someone is dead-set on seeing her son as less valuable than other members of society, she can talk until kingdom-come without any positive results.  It is not the time or place to educate someone who is hostile.  Change begins elsewhere.  

In my perspective, it does no good for my son to defend himself against an entity (police or otherwise) that is adamant to see him guilty for something, even if it's just his black skin. If and when he is stopped by the police and treated with disrespect, antagonism, rudeness and condescension, I do not believe that is the time to assert his rights.  It is not the time or place to educate the assaulting parties.  It is the time for him to ride the storm and put up with their ignorance.  He must realize that he is not who they are assuming him to be.  

It is not helpful for him to have a snarky response, stubbornly refuse to cooperate, or show them all just how equal of a person he is.  In fact, if he did these things, it would serve to confirm the aggressor's prejudice.  Many prejudice people assume that blacks are incapable of following instruction and heeding authority, thus resulting in trouble.  If my son were to refuse to follow instruction and was heedless of the authorities (right or wrong) around him, he confirms their prejudices and perpetuates the problem.  However, if he responds to the aggressive authority with poise, politeness, humility and grace, he will fly in the face of everything they expect of him.  

If you are around me for any length of time, you will probably hear me say that it matters less what happens to you; it matters most how you respond to your circumstances.  I will endeavor to train my children to be respectful, dignified, decent, honorable people with integrity in every circumstance.  We live in a world where there are hateful, racist, bigoted, and willfully ignorant people, or "pigs" as my cousin's friend commented.  It is an unfortunate fact.  I desire my children to act within that world in such a way that no one, (black, white, or pink with a curly tail), can bring a legitimate accusation against them.  I want them to rise above the hate directed towards them and not stoop to engage in a conflict that is unprofitable in the moment.  

Please hear me, I am not saying that we stand by and do nothing.  It is not right that our children are treated this way and that we live in fear for their lives.  People are wrong for the assumptions and comments they make.  Yes, I would love nothing more than to use some of my martial arts training to discombobulate those that make derogatory remarks about my children's skin color. I am saying, however, that change begins elsewhere.  It begins with defying the common stereotypes.  It begins with educating people who will listen.  It begins with living above reproach in a way that, when there are accusations, there are no grounds to legitimize them.  It begins with being different than what they expect, different than the stereotype. 

I understand that many of my readers do not share my belief in Jesus the Messiah.  However, since my faith is all important in my life, I will also share my perspective based on Scripture.  Jesus taught and lived this very thing that we are discussing.

In regards to our faith, and living a life pleasing to God, we are taught to "[keep] a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil." (1 Peter 3)

Jesus taught us and said, "You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5)

Jesus doesn't leave room for personal rights or pride.  He taught and modeled a life that is counterintuitive to our natural responses.  He taught us to live our lives dedicated to the Father regardless of personal cost.  Indeed, this was not just a theory to Him, but he lived it out until death. (Mark 14:53-15:32)
My Little Man washing the dishes

If neither I nor my children have rights in regards to our lives, surely this also encompasses our skin color.  Whether we are being harassed because we believe in Jesus or we are criticized because we adopted instead of giving birth, or have children with disabilities, or because of our social/economic status or our race or ethnicity or any choices we have made on our lives that people could question or would set us apart, my response and that of my children must remain the same.  It is better to be wronged.

So, yes, I will be teaching my son to be proud of his Ethiopian heritage.  I will teach him to hold his head up, dress well, present himself with dignity, be respectful and respectable, and be a positive part of his community, both black and white, American and Ethiopian.  I will push him into every Ethiopian dance class and martial arts class I can as soon as he is old enough, and will teach him when it's acceptable to fight and how to have self control and healthy self-respect.  I will teach him how to interact within our community to limit the chances of him becoming a statistic.  I love the idea in the article about introducing him to the police in our town.  I think that's a great opportunity for both him and the officers. 

More Rice Pudding, Mama?
I will also be teaching him that we live in a messed up world.  That there are people out there that refuse to see him in any other way than through negative prejudices.  These are the people we live around, but their assumptions are not accurate or true.  We cannot change them in a day, a moment, an encounter.  We will only change them by living in a way that is above reproach regardless of the consequences. 

My son is a good boy, and hopefully will become a good man.  His circumstances cannot define who he is, but the decisions he makes in the midst of those circumstances will show him to be a stellar man of integrity and humility or one full or pride and self-importance.  

I understand that not every mother out there will understand or share my perspective.  Indeed, my perspective may change over time.  But for now, this is where I find myself landing in this whole debate, and I hope that my children will be the better people for it in the end.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Adjusting and Zoo (take-2)

(At the guest house in Addis)
(Daddy's Baby Girl,
4 months later)

The difference 4 months can make in the life of a child

(Jayce is a little miffed that we are
taking him away from Christmas lights to
go look at elephants)
(At the guest house in Addis)

The last few days I've been amazed (and oh so thankful) how well the kids are adjusting/have adjusted.  This Sunday morning at church, they were running around giggling and chasing each other just like "normal" toddlers.  They have become comfortable in that space and with those people, and are content to move around in it with the assurance that they are alright there.  They both occasionally check in to make sure we are were where they had left us, but are otherwise happy to romp around.  Everyone around us was smiling because they recognized the improvement over the last few weeks.  It did our hearts good to see the kids so happy and content.

In fact, they were doing so well that we tried the church nursery!  Even though the nursery workers were not people they knew super well, the kids stayed happy there the entire service!  This was the first sermon I got to truly listen to in 4 months.  (Happy mama!)  At one point, Philip leaned over to me and commented that it was hard to relax with the constant expectation of screams emanating from the adjacent room.  That aside, the morning felt like a definite success.

Today, two girlfriends and I took the kids to the zoo again.  As you may remember, their first zoo experience at 6-weeks home was overwhelming to them, and their favorite experience was looking at ducks.  Today, they were happy to watch otters, excited to see fish, interested in monkeys, curious about the climb-on jeep, and content to observe hippos.

Here are a few (ok, more than a few) of my favorite pictures from today:

The whole crew!  Anya, Miss Ti, Auntie Stasia, Jayce and me!

Baby Girl being VERY brave and riding the lion by herself

Teeth.  They are pointy.

Both kids weren't super happy to ride the lion with Mama

But, we got a great smile out of Jayce.  I love it when he smiles!

Lunch time!

"Driving" the jeep in the African Cat exhibit

Happy Baby Girl

Towards the end, Jayce was just happy to be worn in a wrap.

Both kids are doing great talking and even putting words together!  We have learned a lot about animals and the sounds they make.  All this exposure to animals has really helped.  Oh, I didn't share about the wildlife safari in Winston!  Yes, we took a trip to the drive-through safari in southern Oregon.  It was a success, and the kids had a blast.  Here are a few of my favorite pics from that:

Goofing off in the hotel room

Daddy time!

Princess transport

Kids looking at God's creatures

God's creatures looking back

Right, so about words: I think Jayce's first two words he put together were "Bamyah peesh!" (Banana, please).  Of course.  Both kids say please when they want something, often without prompting.  They will say "thank you", also, though it sounds like "gunn-noo".

It is nice to be able to ask them if they are all done after a meal, or if they want more.  Anya still eats more than Jayce, and she is beginning to "gum-drop" again, so I think another big growth spurt is coming up.  She was gum-drop shaped for a while, they grew about an inch and stretched out the chubbiness into more normal proportions.  Now I think she's getting ready to do it again.

Jayce is talking more and more, even more than Anya sometimes, if that is even possible.  He's all over things that go, things that move, and things to do.  He imitates so much, and was even doing push ups in the living room this morning after running around in a circle and falling into his "ground fighting position" as he sees us do in class.  I can't wait to see how he continues to develop his interests.

Anya has surpassed where Jayce was 4 months ago.  She is responding well to instruction and is developing more and more self control and awareness.  She is still a morning person, still the most cheerful person in the house, and still our little tornado.  Her walking ability has improved greatly, and she's able to keep up where she was previously unsteady on her feet for the longest time.  A friend commented recently how much she seems to trust us.  It's exciting to see!

Thanks for keeping tabs on our little family!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

14 Weeks Home, and More Coffee Please

Anya meets her first fuzzy caterpillar
Greetings from the depths of motherhood!  Wow, this is a wild and crazy adventure, and will make for great stories later.  I give up trying to formulate an intelligent thought, and if I don't start blogging again soon, it will never happen.  I was hoping for something profound and exciting to share, but I'll be lucky if I get to proofread this post.
Anya and her cousin, Henry
The kids have been home 3 1/2 months now.  In some ways, it has seemed like 3 1/2 years.  I'm not sure of the balance between "sticking to routine" vs. "doing fun and exciting things".  However, we have been doing fun things together and the kids learn new things every day.  Each day they learn a few new words, and seem to be a sponge for new experiences.  Each day starts with coffee (me) and lots of enthusiasm and energy (them).  By the time lunch rolls around, I'm counting the milliseconds until nap.  I'm honestly not sure how I make it to the end of each day, but the days keep passing, and I'm still alive.  The kids are even still alive!

Speaking of coffee, I'm a zombie without it, but don't seem to have any extra energy with it.  It's rather a loose-loose situation.  Yup, a true addict.

When we aren't as neat and tidy.....
We are still cute!
Jayce turned two on the 13th.  Philip was gone at a men's retreat, so I packed the kids up and snagged a few girlfriends and we went to the beach for the weekend.  We had a ton of fun, and I kept the sand out of the kids' hair with swim caps.  They looked a little odd, but don't judge.  It beat finding sand in their hair for the next week.  Both kids had overcome their fear of the waves by this time, and Anya thankfully overcame her propensity for eating sand.  We ate a nice dinner at a Thai place, and the owner's daughter was just a few days older than Anya.  I was pleased that both kids ate with the same care that we use (usually) at home.  It's pretty easy to take them to restaurants because they don't often make a mess.  The gentleman at the ice cream shop gave us an extra scoop of ice cream, and both kids enjoyed it, but did not finish.

Kiddos with their Auntie Stasia
The Monday after we got back from the beach, I had a birthday party for Jayce.  It was turtle themed, since turtles seem to be his favorite animal.  Jayce's friend Adane came, and we had fun playing together.  Mom helped, and did a fabulous job on the games.  That evening, I had an improvised hot dog roast for family.  It didn't really go according to plan, since the Estacada Fire had spread and Philip's family was waiting for the evacuation notice.  However, everyone ended the evening fed and happy, and with peace of mind that their horses and dogs were safe.

Adane, Jayce and Anya

Pin the Tail on the Turtle!

Anya is developing more coordination, with no loss of enthusiasm.  She can do almost anything Jayce does, but with giggles and princess-like flair.  She's such a girl!  I'll ask her to get her shoes and without fail, she brings her sparkly sandals.  Her favorite clothes are foofy and pink.  I'm not sure where this came from, and I never dreamed I'd have a daughter quite like her!

My beautiful, beautiful Baby Girl

She makes us smile every day, and I think her "velcro hugs" in the morning are the best-- she attaches herself to us in a hug that shows all of her zeal for life, her love and upbeat attitude.  Can't help but love her to pieces!

Mama, Auntie Juju, and Baby Girl

Grandma Bee

Jayce continues to amaze and learn and grow. He will imitate us at every opportunity, including knife defense at krav maga.  Evidently he handed his grand-mom a garden trowel, did some fancy chopping moves with his hands, and boldly took the trowel away from her, proud for knowing how to disarm his grandma.  What a nut!

Can we be any more handsome????

He is talking constantly, mostly in jabber.  He will repeat words regularly, and we continue to stretch and insist on proper responses.  "Yes, Mama" is preferred to "no, no no, no, no!!!!!!"  Just a few days ago we heard Jayce and Anya talking to each other with some English words intermixed.  It was fun to hear.  They have their own jabber language, but some English sprinkled in for good measure is a step in the right direction.

This boy is starting his modeling career early

Jayce learned the secret of manipulation the other day.  He wanted a banana, but I was busy.  So, he came over to where I was working, laid his head on my lap and snuggled for a moment.  Then he asked for a "bamyah" while looking adorable.  Mama's heart melted and he got his bamyah.

Jayce will do anything new, as long as he knows what to expect.  (My kid.) Anya, being the more adventurous of the two (Philip's kid), often gets to be the guinea pig while Jayce watches her.  Then, he is happy to do the activity after he watched Anya survive.  Everything from haircuts to craft projects, if you give the boy an example, he'll follow happily.  He watched us and figured out how to use a fork and a knife, all by himself.  The video is poor since the window was behind him, but the dexterity he has is pretty impressive for 2 years old.

Philip and I took the kids to the beach just to enjoy some time as a family.  We didn't spend much time on the sand, since the weather was not warm.  However, we fed seals at the Seaside Aquarium, which was actually pretty cool.  The aquarium itself was nice but not spectacular, but the seals were a hit.  They were super lively and active, and you ended up soaked from their splashing.  Both kids enjoyed feeding them halves of little fish (icky) and watching the seals bark and clap and splash and dive for the treat.  I'm still not sure what I think about halves of dead fish.

Later in the evening we went walking and watched a street performer and his guitar.  Both kids were fascinated, content to stop and be serenaded for a while.

As much as the kids will get annoyed with each other and be as "normal" of siblings as you can get, it's fun to watch them love on each other just as much.  Hugs are a common occurrence in our home, and usually end in a tackle.  But, it's a loving tackle.

They enjoy riding Auntie Juju's horse, and Anya finally consented to a horse being a part of her Princess Transport.  She was previously terrified.

Jayce tried on his first motorcycle helmet, and thought he was pretty hot stuff for it.

They love to go places, even if it's on a walk in the neighborhood.  My only concern is that they pronounce "shoes" as "douche".  I'm hoping they grow into a proper pronunciation sooner rather than later.

We were at a wedding recently and the venue had an antique water pump as decor.  Jayce explored the pump, asked about the water, and seemed to know what it was for.  I later realized that the spigot resembled the water source at the orphanage where he stayed for several months.

A few more videos of adorableness:

Philip blew bubbles on them in the tub tonight:

Anya talking on her phone:

That's all for now!